Status: 04.12.2023, 13:46 PM
By: Peter Reinbold
Murnau students felt very much at home during their visit to Atwima, Ghana. © Private
Rumours are circulating about discrimination against Murnau pupils during a visit to the partner region Atwima in Ghana. But they are unfounded, the actors involved emphasize.
Murnau – The eleven girls and boys from the Realschule im Blaue Land and the Christoph-Probst-Mittelschule, who spent 19 days in Atwima (Ghana) at the end of the last school year, have long since returned home. Safely. Physically and mentally. "It was an unforgettable experience for everyone," says Emanuel Ruf (37), who teaches mathematics and English at the secondary school and who accompanied the young people between the ages of 14 and 17 together with his secondary school colleague Lina Gänßler. At a meeting in October, which was attended by the children and their parents, the memory was refreshed once again. Ruf claims to have noticed an "intensive developmental leap" among the young people.
A shadow threatens to fall on the beautiful impressions and the successful cooperation with the students of the junior high school in Atwima. Nasty rumours are making the rounds in Murnau among parents whose children attend secondary school. The Tagblatt was approached through various channels that the children had experienced discrimination. Apparently, the parents' council also noticed something about it. However, over five corners. One knows parents who want to have heard about it from other parents, according to the committee. No one wants to be named, because the information is of great importance. The accusation: Ghanaian families who were intended as host parents, it is rumoured, refused to take in whites. Therefore, the Murnau delegation was forced to stay in a hotel. Was there black racism against Murnau children in a country whose inhabitants had to endure unspeakable suffering during the British colonial era?
At the secondary school in the Blue Land, people are shocked by the speculation and vehemently disagree. Ruf calls them "absolute nonsense" and "nasty slander." Secondary school principal Ralf Havelka is "shocked" and suspects "agitation". Someone wants to construct a racist story. City hall spokeswoman Annika Röttinger says "the accusations against the Ghanaian families are baseless".
Hygienic and sanitary standards "not to be expected" of Murnau's children
Ruf and Havelka do not deny the fact that the children were staying in a hotel. However, the reasons are quite different from those that are circulating. Even at the beginning of the trip, it was clear that accommodation with host families would not be possible. "We had informed the parents about this," says Ruf. Torita Wolfart, wife of the Honorary Consul of Ghana, who initiated the trip and put together the program for it, had realized during a visit to potential host parents that "the hygienic and sanitary standards" could not be expected of the Murnau children. "They are problematic in Ghana." She calls the rumors "unbelievable and malicious. The German children were welcomed openly and lovingly in Atwima." Röttinger has similar words: "From numerous and exclusively positive feedback from the participants, we know that the exchange between the Murnau and Ghanaian children and their families is very friendly." Honorary Consul Florian Wolfart, who has been a citizen of Murnau for years, is deeply affected: "Such accusations can only come from racists who cannot imagine that other people are not racists."
There was another reason for staying in the hotel. According to Ruf, the children were able to keep in touch with their home and their parents better via WiFi from there, as it was impossible to get Ghanaian SIM cards for everyone. The Murnau paediatrician Oliver Michael, whose Filius Peer was part of the student group, also knows nothing about discrimination. "Our son felt very comfortable in Atwima and told a lot of nice things. He has not experienced any discrimination." Michael considers the student exchange to be "a very good thing".
There has been a partnership between Murnau and the Ghanaian region of Atwima since 2019. This was to be put on a broader basis by the attendance of pupils from the Realschule im Blaue Land and the Christoph-Probst-Mittelschule. "It is of great importance that children and young people experience that the unknown can be something positive and enriching. Our partnership with Atwima also has the potential to break down any prejudices," said Mayor Rolf Beuting (ÖDP/Citizens' Forum) at the presentation of the project at the beginning of March this year. The Bavarian Youth Exchange Foundation, which was founded by the Bavarian state government and which promotes in particular the exchange of young people from middle, real, special and vocational schools, provided financial support in addition to organisational support. Which minimized the participants' own contribution. "The trip was well subsidized. The parents only had to pay about 500 euros out of their own pockets," says Realschule director Havelka.
Return visit planned for 2024
The student exchange with Atwima is to be further filled with life. According to Ruf, "it is planned" that Ghanaian children will come to Murnau for a return visit in the coming year. Torita Wolfart has been back in Ghana in recent weeks to set everything in motion. The number of children is still written in the stars. "It depends on how many people get a visa," Wolfart says. She assumes that there are twelve for whom German host parents are to be sought in the coming weeks. And the question of how the trip will be financed still needs to be clarified. "I hope that the Bavarian Youth Exchange Foundation will bear the costs," says Torita Wolfart. Ghanaian families whose children attend state schools are too poor to be able to afford the flight to Germany.
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